Much emphasis is placed on elections that occur at the national level, more specifically, presidential elections. It is justifiable to pay attention to these elections. Politicians in Washington carry heavy influence on issues that affect our lives. These national elections are constantly covered via the major news networks. In fact, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX are making enormous amounts of money covering the elections, debates, and political scandals surrounding presidential candidates. However, we have become so distracted by the national scene that we have failed to focus on our local governments.
Local and statewide elections are extremely important and often more important than national elections. The day-to-day issues that affect us most are often on these ballots. Every year on the first Tuesday, after the first Monday, elections occur across the country. During the years when Presidents are not being elected, voter turnout tends to go down. This means that most people vote every four years. Most people even skip all of the other items on the ballot and simply vote for President and Vice President. It is this delusional type of thinking has people expending much of their time and energy in the wrong direction.
Elections occur at all levels including school boards, wards, boroughs, counties, towns, cities, and states. There are always important ballot issues that are always snuck in under the radar. I would encourage you to check your local government websites for ballot initiatives that may be of importance to you.
I currently reside in Kent County, Michigan. There are some important issues on the ballot. Here are three items currently on the ballot.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan has property taxes on the ballot. In Michigan, property taxes are normally referred to as “millages” and most people do not know what the word “millage” means. In simple terms it means Property Tax Rates.
- Kentwood, Michigan has a measure on the ballot that would prevent convicted Felons from ever holding an elected position in the city.
- Grand Rapids has the offices of Mayor, Comptroller, and Library Commissioner on the ballot. Most people are familiar with the position of Mayor, though most people are unaware of the power that their Mayor possesses. Depending on your city, the Mayor could be a very powerful and influential person. The Library Commissioner typically oversees the public library system in a particular town or city. The Comptroller is typically responsible for maintaining the city’s accounts, and for ordering payments into and out of the city. Some of these positions may not seem like much, but it is often the individuals in positions of power who are able to either influence others and lead the charge for change, or advocate for maintaining the status quo.
These are just a few examples of the many items that may be on local ballots across the nation. Sometimes local and state taxes are placed on the ballot. Be a good citizen and become aware of the local and state initiatives that may affect your community.
If you really want your voice heard and you want to make a difference, participate in local elections. The next time you complain about laws and taxes that you do not like, make sure you channel disappointment and anger in the right direction. Washington is not responsible for everything.
We all have our eyes on Washington while our local politicians #OccupyMainStreet. Before you run to #OccupyWallStreet, you should focus on your own street.